The best natural laundry detergent – grows on trees!

Clean clothes

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Every day many of us are unknowingly assaulting our skin by wearing clothes washed with chemical laundry detergent. The question on my lips? What is the best natural laundry detergent? Of course. Was there an alternative out there? The search was on.

Our skin happens to be our largest organ. It’s our first line of defence against bacteria and infection. The function of the skin is to protect our organs, help us release toxins and regulates temperature to enable our body to carry out its natural processes efficiently. That alone suggests our skin is rather important and something to be nurtured.

With two children who love the great outdoors, we are no strangers to mud, mess and muck. We needed something effective yet gentle. Not convinced by any supermarket product, I spent time a grating castile soap into soda crystals Sure, it worked but it was time-consuming.

As a busy mother, with an active family, I yearned for something natural, simple and effective. So, can you imagine my delight when I stumbled across the best  laundry detergent that is completely natural.

And it grows on trees.

Introducing soap nuts…

Or soap berries as they’re also known belong to the Sapindus family.

They’re soap nutsfound throughout India, China, Hawaii and Florida. The dried husks (shell) have long been used for washing and cleaning the water. Why? Because these babies contain saponin – a natural surfactant.

Used widely in Ayurvedic medicine for eczema and psoriasis they are a must try if you suffer from these. Suitable for even the most delicate of skin means baby can get down with soap nuts too. Cloth nappies and all. Yep, that’s right. Soap nuts are cloth nappy friendly. Soap nuts are not actually nuts they are safe to use with folks with nut allergies. Could this be any more perfect?!

I’ve been washing my families clothes in these for a few years now and I am sold. My husband’s skin has never been better. He has a rare skin condition, similar to psoriasis but worse. The improvement since we switched has been quite remarkable. I’ve several soap nut converts among my friends too. No one’s been disappointed yet.

Why regular laundry products suck

The tall and short of it is; they contain toxic chemicals. Chemicals linked to a multitude of health problems. We’d be here for an age if I listed them all. So I’ll give an overview of some common ingredients found in laundry products. 

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Originates from coconuts but it’s far from natural once it becomes SLS, a synthetic surfactant. The manufacturing process known as ethoxylation creates a byproduct 1,4, Dioxane, which contaminates the SLS. 1,4 dioxane is a probable carcinogenic. Not a promising start eh? It gets worse. There are 1600 studies linking SLS to health problems including but not limited to:

  • Irritation of the skin and eyes
  • Organ toxicity
  • Reproductive Harm
  • Neurotoxicity (That’s your brain)
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Biochemical or cellular change
  • Possible mutations

And that’s just one ingredient in your washing detergent. A very significant one if you consider it’s in just about every product that foams. Shampoo, toothpaste, shower gels, bath foam. We really don’t want to be absorbing this crap into our bodies’. Nevermind directly into the bloodstream via our largest organ. The skin…do we? Nope. Not I, anyway. SLS is on my ‘Nope’ list.

Laundry powder

1,4 Dioxane aka Dioxane

The key point here is: this is a byproduct of ethoxylation manufacturing process. As such, it’s not considered an ingredient. So, it’s not labelled on your laundry products. With the write up this stuff as we ought to know it’s hiding in there. It sure as hell does not belong on our skin. Long-term exposure has been found to result in:

  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage

And this stuff is not listed as an ingredient! That’s something I feel we ought to know, personally. It’s worth noting; if a substance been manufactured using ethoxylation, you can bet your bottom dollar this stuff is lurking in it. If that wasn’t enough, dioxane is toxic to the environment and gets into the groundwater. Contaminating it. Steer clear.

Chemical ingredients

Fragrance

You’ll remember just how toxic fragrance is from my home fragrance article. That smell of ‘clean’ clothes is fragrance. This seemingly simple ingredient is actually a cocktail of typically petroleum-derived chemicals. Sometimes 200 of them to make a single scent.

Fragrance commonly contain known endocrine disruptors 1,4 Dicholorbenzene and phalates. The impact these have on our health include;

  • Eye, throat and nose irritation
  • Respiratory problems
  • Reproductive Harm
  • Birth defects
  • Nervous system damage

To add insult to injury these chemicals work by deception. These pesky things erode your smell receptors stopping you from being able to detect the odour. That’s like blinding yourself and saying;

“Ah, now the house is clean. I can’t see any mess!”

Madness!

Using soap nuts, it’s so easy! And good for your skin

I never imagined a natural approach to laundry would be quite this simple. Perfect for busy families and our skin sure appreciates it.soap nuts essential oils

A box of soap nuts will last us about a year, depending on how we use them. Yes, that’s correct. Twelve months washing for our family of four. The savings on toxic detergents is fantastic. Nuts usually come with muslin baggies but if yours don’t a sock will do. Here’s how to use them:

So, it’s wash day:

  • Load up the machine.
  • Pop 4-6 soap nuts into your mini drawstring muslin bag.
  • Add a few drops of your favourite essentials oil onto the bag. Geranium and Lime are two of my favourites.
  • Throw into the machine.
  • Wash!
  • Hang up the muslin bag ready for next time.
  • Enjoy lovely clean clothes with a subtle scent.

Easy!

You’ll get several washes out of the nuts. I use mine until they disintegrate inside the bag. Clean clothes every time.

Clean clothes

To begin with, washing with soap nuts may seem strange. Don’t be fooled by lack of overbearing ‘clean clothes’ scent. Your clothes are clean and your nose isn’t being assaulted. This is a good thing. Change up your essential oils and find what works for you.

Frugal Tip: soap nuts are compost friendly. Chuck em onto your heap and reap the crumbly, nutrient-rich rewards.

DIY liquid laundry detergent

Prefer liquid laundry detergent? No problem. You can make a liquid from soap nuts quickly and easily with this simple method.

Ingredients

Method

  • In a pan bring soap nuts and water to a gentle boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for approximately an hour.
  • Cool and transfer to a clean glass jar or bottle with a secure fitting lid.

Store in the fridge and it’ll keep for a month or so.

This is a natural soap without preservatives. It lacks the eternal shelf life of its chemical competitors. For this reason, make it up in manageable size batches to avoid wastage. 

Frugal Tip: Freeze liquid soap in ice trays to prolong shelf life. Defrost and use as required.

I like to leave the liquid soap unscented so I can customise it to my needs. I’ll add few drops of essential oil before putting in the wash. For babies, chamomile is safe and gentle. Always read up on essential oils before use. Not all are indicated for use in children, pregnant or nursing women etc. Avoid essential oils when washing cloth nappies as they may compromise their integrity.

Essential oils

This liquid soap can also be used for household cleaning. Wipe down the surfaces, sink and even clean the floor! I use lemon essential oil or another citrus for the anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and grease cutting properties. They smell wonderfully fresh too.

Soap nuts for the win!

Call me nutty but I love soap nuts. They’re so versatile and won’t break the bank. They’ve been an absolute blessing for my husband. You don’t need to have sensitive or skin conditions to benefit from soap nuts. They really are for everyone. Truly family friendly they are suitable for baby to 100 and beyond. And the financial savings? They speak for themselves. I’m never looking back. Banish the baddies from your laundry room and try something new. Your skin deserves it. Take care of it and it’ll take care of you.

Head over to Amazon and grab your soap nuts today!

Perhaps you’re already enjoying the benefits of switching? I’d love to know. Just drop me a line below. Stay blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/b…

https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/i…

https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/726331/1,4-DIOXANE/#.WgliMIjLfIU

15 Comments on “The best natural laundry detergent – grows on trees!”

  1. Hi Lace. I love this article and am really interested in trying these out. Do you know where I can get them in the UK please? I suffer from eczema on my hands and I’m sure that the detergents I use make it worse (as well as stress!) Would be really interested to know how to get hold of the soap nuts to try them out. Thanks for all the information.

    1. Hey Gail,

      Lovely to hear you’re interested in trying soap nuts! I’m also in the UK, you can purchase them here

      http://amzn.to/2hLGZUO

      Do come back and let me know how you get on. Should do your eczema good which may have a knock on effect for stress. Wishing you well.

      Bright blessings,

      Lace

  2. Hi Lace… first let me say a big thank you for a very interesting article.

    I think most people have no idea or are not even bothered to check on the harmful ingredients companies are allowed to use, and get away with, in the products we buy every day.

    Sites like yours help people understand what is going on and find alternatives.

    I am a great believer in Ayurvedic treatments however I had not heard of soap nuts. Now that I have I really want to try them! 🙂

    Currently, I am living in Turkey do you know if they would ship to Turkey?

    1. Hey Moni,

      Thank you for stopping by. I’m pleased you found the article useful. The ingredients in these products are indded eyebrow raising to say the least!

      Natural medicine rocks!

      You can buy soap nuts here

      http://amzn.to/2hN59yh

      With shipping to Turkey. I’ve just checked for you.

      Would love to visit Turkey sometime.

      I’d love to hear back from you when you’ve tried them.

      Bright blessings,

      Lace

  3. I would think at my age I would have heard of about everything by now. Soap nuts? Wow. I have got to try these. I have tried making my own detergents, soaps and other ways to be more environmentally friendly. These look better for the family and the environment. Thanks for teaching an old dog a new trick!!

    1. Haha Christina, that made me smile. It just shows there’s always something to learn and I’m so pleased to have shared this with you.

      Soap nuts just wonderful. The ease of them makes them a joy to use.

      I’d love to know how you get on when you try them. Enjoy!

  4. Wow…just when I thought I’d seen everything…this is too cool! I have one of those HE washers with a tray for the soap…so in that case, I’m wondering if I should boil them down to liquid? Does anyone have a suggestion?

    Thanks so much for this post and this site…great stuff!

    1. Hey Terri,

      It’s great you’re excited by soap nuts! In terms of your washer, you should get on fine just chucking the bag of nuts in with your clothes, leaving the drawer empty. That’s what I do.

      You can of course, make liquid soap and experiment with that too. Let me know how you get on.

      Bright blessings

  5. Oh wow Lace really impressive article! i never thought of this natural laundry detergent , its really super cool and ease in use by the way thanks for sharing this great article. I will definitely give it a try. I have sensitive skin and sometimes it gets irritated with clothes, and the reason surely would be a detergent’s chemicals. Keep sharing informative posts. Have a great day!

    1. Thanks Sarah! Those chemical detergents are no good for your sensitive skin at all. Soap nuts are a gentle alternative for sure.
      I hope you enjoy using them as much as we do!

      Bright blessings

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